How to replace a heating element in a dryer (INCLUDING Frigidaire, Kenmore, Costway, black+decker)

Your dryer is one of the most important appliances in your home. It’s responsible for getting your clothes clean, saving you time and energy, and making your life a little bit easier. However, it doesn’t come without its challenges. If the machine gives an error code on the display or it takes a long time to dry the clothes, it might be needed to replace the heating element at the back of the appliance. Many people don’t know how to repair or replace a heating element in a dryer. Luckily, we have you covered. Keep reading to learn how to replace a heating element in a dryer.


What is a Heating Element in a Dryer?

A heating element in your dryer is responsible for creating an electric current that generates heat. The dryer’s heating element is what determines how quickly your clothes dry. When your clothes are dry, the heating element shuts off, and the dryer is safe to unplug. Every dryer is different, but most heating elements are located near the back of the dryer.  A dryer’s heating element is made of two parts: the heating element and the surrounding metal. The heating element can break down over time and needs to be replaced. Luckily it is an easy repair that can be done with some basic tools. Let’s take a look at how to do this.

Tools You Will Need

To do this repair, we will need some tools to make things easier. These include the following:

Safety goggles – Gloves – Screwdrivers: Phillips head, Robertson, and flathead – Pliers — Adjustable wrench – towels 

To get the new heating element, you will need to know the model of your dryer. This can be found on the manual or on the machine itself. If you don’t find it, you can take a picture and ask the manufacturer. It is important that you get the right heating element as each manufacturer has its unique design.

If your dryer is still under guarantee, you might want to contact the manufacturer. Often the guarantee is voided if you open up the machine. If the guarantee is over, most electricians only will want to work on it when the machine hasn’t been opened. Therefore you should only replace the belt yourself if there is no guarantee left and you are sure that you can get it fixed yourself. This is an easy fix so people that have some DIY skills should be able to do it without too many problems.

How to Replace a Heating Element in a Dryer

 Do not attempt to take out or remove the heating element while your dryer is running. Doing so could cause serious injury or damage to your dryer.  First, turn off your dryer, unplug it, and make sure it is cool. If it is hardwired, you will have to go to the power source and turn it off. You will also have to remove the dryer vent. This is typically a flexible hose. While you are at it, you can clean it as well (see HERE how to do this). 

Once this is done, we can move the dryer so that it is easier to reach everything. It can also make it safer to work on the heater as it is sometimes installed on top of a washing machine. This can be a heavy item and working with a second person and using a cart can help you.

Remove the old heating element

Let’s get started. We can use a Philips screwdriver to remove the screws from the back. There are typically quite a lot of them so using a screwdriver can speed up the process. This will allow us to remove the backplate. Keep the screws so that you can reuse them later on. 

Once this is done, we should see the heating element. It is typically a big metal piece in the lower right corner. It is often needed to remove screws or a clip to remove it from the dryer. Pliers might be needed to remove the clips. Be careful that you don’t damage the connectors as these will be needed later on.

Next, we remove the screws that connect the heating element to the housing. It is often only needed to remove the lower part as this contains the heating element. The heating element should slide down out of it once the screws have been removed. You might need to try a few times and use a small prying tool if it doesn’t slide out immediately. Inspect the machine to make sure that you don’t see any burning marks or other indications of problems before proceeding.

Installing the new heating element

 To install the new heater, we can slide it back into the housing and connect it with the screws.  Now we just need to attach the connectors again. Don’t overtight them so that they don’t break. Double-check that they are properly installed before you move forward.

 This is a great moment to use a vacuum cleaner to remove any dirt and dust from around the back of your heater. Dust gets everywhere and it is important to keep your dryer clean.

 Now that this is done, we can attach the back panel again. Turn on the machine to see if it gives any error messages on the display. If you get an error message, you can check the manual to see what is going on. If that is not the case, you can place the machine back and install the dryer vent again. 

This is the end of the repair and you should be able to use your machine again!

To conclude, we can state that replacing a heating element is quite straightforward. This needs to happen from time to time. It is a great moment to also clean the machine and the dryer vent. Other than this, heaters don’t require a lot of maintenance. It is also possible that the belt degrades over time and that you have to replace it. To avoid this it is important that you don’t overload the machine and keep it clean.